COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – Last year, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed the Student Identification Card Suicide Prevention Act into law. It went into effect at the beginning of this month.

The law requires all school issued ID cards for middle school students or older in South Carolina to have the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number printed on it. The legislation also applies to higher education.

Schools are also required to include at least one other resource, like the Crisis Text Line.

Last school year, some schools began phasing this in.

Officials with the state Department of Mental Health said the goal is to normalize seeking help.

Office of Suicide Prevention Program Manager Jessica Barnes said, “It gives them that validation that life is hard and there are times where we need to reach out to people.”

According to Barnes, suicide is the third leading cause of death for South Carolinians between the ages of 10 to 24.

Starting next week, the 988 number for the suicide hotline will become operational. Officials estimate call volume will increase.

Bill Lindsey is the Executive Director for the South Carolina chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. He said reminding students of mental health resources is crucial, especially right now.

“It’s significant. Coming in a time when we’ve been in the middle of a mental health crisis. Coming out of the pandemic is one thing but also everything else in general. The pandemic just exacerbated that,” Lindsey said.

Both Barnes and Lindsey agreed these aren’t just numbers printed on a card, it’s a form of hope to help those who may be struggling.

“Having that number right there and knowing there is someone who can help. I think that’s huge,” Lindsey said.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (or 988 starting July 16, 2022).